Wari-Style Khipus from El Castillo de Huarmey

Author(s): Jeffrey Splitstoser; Milosz Giersz

Year: 2017


Archaeological evidence suggests that khipus—devices made of wrapped and knotted cords—were used by people living in the Wari Empire at least as early as Middle Horizon 1B. These Wari-style khipus, like their later, more famous, Inka descendants, likely carried and conveyed information using color and knots. Wari khipus differ from Inka khipus, however, in many respects including their use of colorful wrapping to make bands and patterns to convey information. Wari-style khipus survive in far smaller numbers than their Inka counterparts. In fact, until 2013, the total number of Wari-style khipus known to be in museums and private collections throughout the world was less than thirty, but excavations conducted between 2013 and 2016 by Milosz Giersz and Roberto Pimentel at the site of Castillo de Huarmey changed all of this when they uncovered the largest number of scientifically excavated Wari-style khipus ever found: approximately fourteen khipus and khipu fragments, many from undisturbed contexts. Some of these khipus are nearly complete; others are remnants, consisting of single cords to multi-cord assemblages that include pendants and subsidiaries. This talk will detail this important find, presenting the entire collection for the first time with its archaeological associations and contexts.

Cite this Record

Wari-Style Khipus from El Castillo de Huarmey. Jeffrey Splitstoser, Milosz Giersz. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431807)


Huarmey Khipu Wari

Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15184